Progress

I feel that my anxiety and depression are well managed at the moment. It seems like this has been a long time coming. I’m able to recognise quite quickly when I feel my mood dipping or my anxiety levels rising. Dave is also really good at picking up on my mood and anxiety. I talk to him as soon as I notice a change. 

Others have also noticed that I seem to be in a good place. I feel more comfortable around my family and friends. Instead of feeling negative emotions about socialising, I am actually looking forward to it. 

Phoning or even talking to most people on the phone was something that was anxiety provoking. Until recently, I was only really comfortable communicating via whatsapp or text messages. I phoned my parents house earlier tonight. I have not felt able to do this in months. 

Dave came across a job that he thought would be good for me. At first I disregarded it. But after some discussion and encouragement I decided to bite the bullet and phone up to get more information. I was so pleased that I did. It gave me the motivation to apply.

So yesterday afternoon (with the help of Dave) I completed and submitted my application form. The closing date isn’t until a week on Wednesday. I am in the mindset that if this job is meant to be, it will be. For me to even apply for a job is a really big deal. 

I know that I will always live with depression and anxiety. My medication is now on my repeat prescription at my doctors. I don’t see myself even contemplating coming off Citalopram any time soon. I don’t want to risk a relapse when I finally seem to be on the correct medication and dosage. As a result I feel like I am actually living my life. I’m getting more sleep and I don’t have difficulties with getting out of bed each morning. 

I feel that I now have the tools to deal with my depression and anxiety more effectively when it is at its worst. CBT has played a massive part in this. 

I hope all of this makes me a stronger, more determined person

Being brave

So I decided to be more brave with my hair. This is a big deal for me. I normally would never have suggested an undercut to my hairdresser for fear of looking stupid, hating it etc. But after spending the week looking at different undercuts I decided to do it. 

  
My hairdresser and I decided to go for a softer undercut which you can see on my left side. I love it. It looks different and I can always cover the undercut if I want by putting my hair over my ear. I am now contemplating getting some colour in it. 

Yesterday I spent the day round at my parents. I had a lovely time. Walter loves my family. He had lots of fun running round in their garden and getting lots of cuddles. 

  
This morning was Walter’s first session of his puppy classes. At first he didn’t know what to make of it. He is the smallest puppy there. A lot of the puppies are really lovely but hyper labradors. Today was a chance for the puppies to have a run round off the leads on the massive field where we will do the training and to get used to each other. By the end of today’s session Walter was a lot more settled and much more happier going up to the other puppies and vice versa. The real work starts next week. We picked up some really good treats for Walter after the session. Dave and I are really pleased with the puppy classes. Walter did really well and we are really looking forward to going again next week. 

I felt pleased that I coped at the puppy session. I didn’t feel anxious. I was able to talk to the other puppy owners. Having Walter has made me be more sociable. We are constantly stopped on walks by people wanting to stroke him and ask questions. As such, I have to interact with people. One of the neighbours near ours always says hello to Walter now whenever he sees him 🙂

Walter is absolutely shattered after the puppy class. Our friends are coming round in a bit so he is having a much needed rest. This was him earlier in the week. He was sat with me on the couch. I leaned forward to get my drink from the coffee table and he stole my seat!

   
 

100 questions about me

I’ve come across a few bloggers answering 100 questions. I thought I would answer them too. So here goes:

1. How are you, really?

I’m tired but OK right now. 

2. What are you thinking about?

Whether I should get something to eat

3. What’s your favourite colour?
Purple

4. What’s your favourite food?
Pizza, Chinese and Mexican

5. What’s your favourite dessert?

Chocolate brownie

6. How old are you?
29

7. What have you learned today?
That Pitch Perfect is a great film. I finally got round to watching it!

8. What was your favourite subject in school?
Psychology

9. What do you do?

I’m a personal assistant for a 12 year old boy with Autism and ADHD. I am also a housewife. 

10. What are some of your favourite books?
I am a fan of the Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, Discworld, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series. I loved The Book Thief, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and One Day. Some of my favourite authors are Jodi Picoult, Dorothy Koomson and Jojo Moyes

11. What are some of your favourite movies?
I love Disney films. Hairspray and Guardians of the Galaxy I have watched countless times. I am also a massive fan of the Alien, Star Wars, Terminator, Batman and Back to the Future series.

12. What kind of music are you into?

Rock and Metal

13. If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I have absolutely no idea! It’s not something I have ever considered. 

14. What’s one of the scariest things you’ve ever done?

Having anxiety makes a lot of things scary. When my anxiety and depression are bad the scariest thing for me is doing anything that involves interacting with other people such as going the gym. 

One of the scariest things I’ve ever done when my anxiety and depression were not impacting me was delivering autism awareness training to 60 police officers. 

15. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Seeing how much progress Dominic (the boy I provide respite for) has made. 

16. Are you married?
Yes

17. How did you meet your spouse / girlfriend / boyfriend?
On a night out in a rock club

18. Do you think it’s better to get married when you’re young or better to wait a while?
I don’t think there is a better option. It’s different for each couples. For me and Dave it was right for us to get married after nearly 9 and a half years together. 

19. Do you have any kids?
No

20. Have you ever thought of adopting?

Yes I have. 

21. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A policewoman

22. How did you get into your profession?
I first started working with autistic children when I got a job as a playleader for disabled children when I was in university in 2005. 

23. Would you recommend your profession to other people? Why / Why not?
I would definitely recommend working with autistic children. It is lovely to know you are making a difference. 

24. What do you do for fun?

Les Mills classes at the gym, read, watch tv shows and films, play on xbox, spend time with my family and friends. 

25. Do you like traveling?

Love it!

26. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
Hong Kong

27. Who are some people you’d like to meet someday?
I’d love to meet my favourite actors and bands. Too many to name!

28. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?
Just be yourself. If people don’t like it, well, fuck them!

29. What’s one of your favourite habits you have?
No idea!

30. What are some things that make you really happy?
My family, friends and puppy. Being out in the sunshine. 

31. What are some things that make you really sad?
Being treated unfairly, when my family and friends are upset, struggling with anxiety and depression. 

32. What are some things that scare you?
Ending up on my own. 

33. Do you like to plan things out in detail or be spontaneous?
I’m more a planner then spontaneous

34. Are you a religious person?
Nope. 

35. If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?
Freddie Mercury

36. Would you rather live in the country or in the city?
City

37. What was your life like growing up?

Good at home. I struggled in school due to being bullied

38. What were you like in high school?
Quiet and introverted. I kept my head down. 

39. Do you have any brothers or sisters? How many?
I have a brother and a sister. 

40. What’s your favourite part about today so far?
Going for lunch and watching Pitch Perfect with my sister. 

41. Who in your life has influenced you the most? How did they do it?
My immediate family. They instilled the values I live by. 

42. What’s your favourite joke?
No idea

43. Have you ever tried sushi? (Did you like it?)
I have and loved it. 

44. Do you like spicy food?
I like a little bit of spice. I can’t handle super spicy foods. 

45. How do you like your steak cooked?
Medium rare. 

46. Do you have a favourite number? Any particular reason why you like that number?
Nope

47. If you were a type of animal, what would you be and why?
A dog. They have such a relaxing life!

48. What’s one of the strangest things you’ve ever done?
No idea

49. What kind of vacations do you like?

I love exploring a place and experiencing the culture. 

50. What are some of your major goals in life?
Make a full recovery, be happy, buy a house, travel. 

51. What are some of your smaller goals in life?
There’s no such thing as a small goal. 

52. What do you like least about yourself?
The way I look

53. What embarrasses you?
I feel embarassed a lot due to my anxiety. I often feel stupid when talking to people in the gym. 

54. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
Child psychologist

55. What’s your earliest memory?
Helping my mum bath my sister when she was a newborn. I was 3 years old. 

56. What’s the best decision you ever made?
Marrying Dave

57. Who’s your best / closest friend?
Dave (cheesy but true), Sami, Kristy

58. What do you think people think of you?

Confident, outgoing, talkative, happy

59. What were your grades like in school?
Average

60. If you could learn one random skill, what would you learn?

I’d love to be able to draw. I’m not artistic in the slightest!

61. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I seem like an extrovert to people. I feel more like an introvert since having my breakdown in December. 

62. Have you ever taken a personality test? (How did the results turn out?)

Don’t think so

63. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
If they make the effort with you

64. Do you think people can control their own destiny?
Yes

65. Do you think all people are equally valuable, or do you think some people in certain situations might be more valuable than others?
I think all people are equally valuable. 

66. Do you think people are basically bad or basically good?

Basically good

67. Do you think morals are universal or relative to the beliefs, traditions, and practices of individuals or groups?
Bit of both

68. Do you think God exists?
No

69. Do you think any kind of afterlife exists?

No

70. Do you vote? Why / Why not? If you do vote, how do you usually vote?
I always vote. I believe you can’t moan about things if you don’t vote. I have more recently been voting by postal vote. 

71. Do you think gay people choose to be gay? Do you think straight people choose to be straight?
I don’t think either gay or straight people choose. 

72. Is torture ever a good option? If no, why not? If yes, when?
No. 

73. Would you kill an innocent person if you thought it might mean saving a dozen other people?

Yes

74. What’s the most money you’ve ever given away?
No idea

75. What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?

Getting rid of people in my life who do not provide anything positive. 

76. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
Being in relationships with idiots

77. What do you think would be one of the best steps we could take toward ending poverty around the world?
No idea

78. What do you think we could do to best improve the education system?
Focusing on children as future adults rather than on exams and testing. 

79. In general, what do you think about art?
I can appreciate it.

80. What are some of your favorite websites?
Wordpress, Buzzfeed, The Guardian

81. What’s the biggest turnoff in a man/woman?
Arrogance

82. What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?

That my job is fine when I actually had to give up my job in December. 

83. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
That I have depression and anxiety. 

84. What’s something you wish everyone knew about you?
That I am loyal and trustworthy

85. What are some of the first things you do in the morning?
Hug Dave, take Walter to the toilet and sort his breakfast out. 

86. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?
My breakdowns, being bullied, being let down by friends

87. Do you cry easily?
In the house yes, in public no

88. How do you feel about public speaking?
I was ok with it before my breakdowns. Not a fan now. 

89. Do you like to talk on the phone?
No, especially if it is with someone I don’t know

90. How many emails do you get each week, roughly?

No idea

91. If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Drew Barrymore, Laura Prepon, Jennifer Lawrence, 

92. What’s one of your favourite questions to ask new friends or to get a conversation going?
I don’t really have one. 

93. Would you ever sky dive or bungee jump?
Never. 

94. Have you ever been in a fist fight?
No. 

95. What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled?
Not really pulled pranks

96. What did you do on your 16th birthday?
I honestly can’t remember

97. What do you think is one of the most undervalued professions right now?

The emergency services

98. How would you explain your basic life philosophy?
Treat others how you want to be treated. 

99. Would you rather be hated or forgotten?
Hated. At least you know you have made some sort if impression. 

100. If you knew you would die tomorrow, would you feel cheated today?
Yes. There’s more I want to do in life. 

The blame game

Walter was really sick on Saturday. We don’t even know for sure what caused it. It was awful. He was throwing up for an hour. He stopped and has been fine since. But me being me, I blamed myself for it. This triggered a low which made me ill. I cried so much my face hurt, I had a terrible headache and I struggled to snap out of it. I wore myself out to the point of exhaustion. Yesterday I woke up to a terrible headache. 

During this horrendous low I ended up telling Dave that I experience suicidal ideations. He said that he thought that I did which is why he really wanted us to get Walter. The tremendous levels of guilt I felt when I did calm down were overwhelming. I was repeatedly apologising that I get these thoughts. I was insisting on cancelling plans on Sunday afternoon for our friends and their 4 year old daughter coming round to meet Walter. Dave suggested that I make the decision in the morning after sleeping. 

I am so thankful for Dave. I was ready to text my friend on Saturday night to cancel. Looking back now, I am glad I didn’t. We had a nice few hours with them. My friend asked what I do with Walter when I am at work. I used this as an opportunity to tell her about how things have been since December. My friend was shocked. She said had no idea, especially as I had seen her when things were really bad. I am glad I told her. This friend lives nearby and I said to her to get in touch whenever she wants to meet up.  As she has a young child, this has always been the way I am with this friend.  

My mood is quite low. I would rather just sit in. However, Walter needs to go for a walk later. It would be easier to not go to my usual Bodycombat class later. I am going to go though. I came across a pattern colouring book that I bought during my last breakdown. I am planning on buying some new felt tips. The ones I found have dried out. Colouring in helps my brain to switch off. 

I am supposed to be spending the day with my sister at some point this week. I am also going round to my parents on Friday. They have been on holiday and are back today so I didn’t see my Dad for Father’s Day. Part of me doesn’t want to see them but I will fight through the negative thoughts. I haven’t seen them for a few weeks so a catchup would do me good. 

Walter is perfectly fine now. He is back to his usual self. This was him last night chilling on the couch with Dave and I:  

 

The future

Tuesday was my penultimate session of CBT with the private therapist I’ve been seeing. We discussed about moving forward with my recovery. Inevitably, this brought up the topic of the future. 

I am not someone who looks forward to the future. Quite the opposite; I am scared of it. Even thinking about it now  speeds up my breathing. 

Currently besides providing respite for Dominic I am not working. This has been for the best. Before my breakdown in December, my job had always played too much of a role in my life. I could never fully switch of from it and put an incredible amount of pressure on myself. My job defined me. I can now see how unhealthy this is. 

Both my breakdowns occurred at times when my job was highly stressful. As a result, the thought of entering a school environment terrifies me. I have always worked with autistic children in schools in some capacity. But I have been completely put off doing this type of job. 

So what do I do in terms of a job? Part of me thinks a completely new job would be better for me. Nothing to do with autistic children. I am still not ready to work as much as I hate to admit. But it also scares me how easily I can cut off from the world. It is still hard work leaving the house and doing anything that requires me to interact with people (which is everything!) I get to a point where I crave the need to retreat, to not have to deal with the outside world. 

Dave has told me that we don’t even need to consider me working until I am ready. Even then, Dave thinks it would be better if I work part time. But how will I know when I am ready to look into working again? I know that I am incredibly lucky to be married to someone so considerate and thoughtful. But in the back of my head I am telling myself that my mental health is putting a huge strain on Dave. 

Looking too far ahead does not help me with my anxiety and depression. So instead I am going to start focusing on the more immediate future. Giving myself small achievable goals for each day. Even if it is something simple. 

Autism and expectations

Recently Dominic has made so much progress. It is truly wonderful to see. 

When I heard about the accident that happened on The Smiler at Alton Towers, I instantly thought of Dominic. He is a massive thrill seeker and loves going to Alton Towers. Guess which ride is his favourite there? Yep, The Smiler. Rollercoasters are a big deal to Dominic. 

I prepared myself for 3 hours of Dominic talking and asking me questions about The Smiler. I was pleasantly surprised. The conversation went as follows:

Dominic – Did you hear about the accident on The Smiler?

Me – Yes

Dominic – I feel sorry for all those people who were hurt

This conversation astounded me for a number of reasons. Dominic loves to talk about everything and anything to do with his special interests. To show empathy towards people he does not know is a big deal. The fact he had a brief conversation and then changed the subject is also a big step for Dominic. 

As Dominic has got older he has become much more self aware. I know that he was prone to being violent towards others when he was angry as a young child. He would never talk to me about this or indeed anything to do with how he feels. 

This evening Dominic started a conversation about when he went to live with his Dad full time four years ago. At this time, Dominic was extremely volatile. I wish I could have filmed the conversation tonight. He talked about how he used to ‘kick off’ (his words) a lot for his Mum. He gave me some examples – at an aquarium and in the park. He then went on to say that because he kicked off a lot he went to live with his Dad and this was better. Dominic said that he doesn’t kick off anymore but he does get angry still. He gave me a recent example of this in school; he felt angry as another child had hit him and he wanted to hit him back. This is another example of the progress Dominic has made; he now talks to me about what has bothered him in school. 

I talked with him about how everyone gets angry. I said that I have a list on my phone of things that help me when I am angry. This is actually the list I made as a result of a CBT session to help with my anxiety and low moods. I showed Dominic this list and we talked about the things that he could do when he is angry. He then started making his own list on his iPod touch there and then!

We ended the evening seeing Walter at my house. Dominic opens up a lot when he is with Walter. He talked about how he doesn’t like getting homework. This is common with child on the autistic spectrum. School is school; home is home. Homework blurs these lines. Dominic will not even attend after school clubs that he would probably enjoy because of this. Eventually he came up with a solution to the homework problem…to do his homework at my house on Wednesdays!!! 

I love how Dominic continues to exceed my high expectations of him. He constantly gives me hope that he will achieve his full potential. I really hope that I will always be in Dominic’s life in some capacity. A lot of people have said they couldn’t work with children like Dominic. They don’t have the patience and it sounds so selfless are just some of the things I am told. I get a great deal from taking Dominic out; he makes me see the world in a completely different way and I constantly laugh and smile when I am with him. 

That makes three

Today confirmed that someone who was my friend for 10 years doesn’t want anything to do with me. I will explain further. 

This friend has been in a relationship for a number of years with an absolute dick. I have no idea why she is with him. I have thought for a long time that he is abusive to her. I never voiced this to her in the hope that she would one day discover this for herself. 

To see a good friend change so much because of said boyfriend was hard to see. These changes were not for the better. My friend went from being outgoing, bubbly, confident to quiet and unsure. She now drinks to excess as her boyfriend does this. This was someone who didn’t drink much until she met this loser. 

I sat back and kept quiet on so many ocassions  She told me about the countless arguments, his excessive drinking and the fact she checks his texts and facebook account behind his back. My friend seemed scared of her boyfriend. 

This friend was one of my bridesmaids. She knew the date of the wedding 19 months in advance. The night before the wedding I found out through another bridesmaid that she was intending to leave after the wedding breakfast. The reason why? Her boyfriend had work the next day. Surely he could book the day off after our wedding since we gave over a year and a half notice? Apparently not!

I found this out when I was attempting to get some sleep the day before my wedding! It was a complete curveball. Least of all as she didn’t have the decency to actually tell me. The amount of time and money I had spent on her being a bridesmaid and she wouldn’t be there the entire day. 

We got married at 2pm. I stayed at the wedding venue the night before with my mum and bridesmaids. Considering my friend’s boyfriend had work early the day after our wedding, I was shocked to find out that by the time our wedding ceremony had started he had drank 3 pints of beer! On all our photos he looks completely miserable. He was sat on a table with the bridesmaids, their partners and my brother during the wedding breakfast. I was told he had a face on and didn’t attempt to join in conversations. 

My friend and her miserable boyfriend left at some point after our first dance. The most upsetting part was they didn’t even say goodbye. They just left. 

I let all this go even though I was furious. Dave and I met up with her at the end of October after we had got back from Reykjavik. It was really awkward. Nothing was said about the wedding. Mostly because Dave didn’t want a fuss and felt it wouldn’t achieve anything. I have not heard from this friend since. 

When I had my breakdown in December, I didn’t see much point in seeking help from this friend. She made it abundantly clear in March 2013 that I didn’t need to be on antidepressants and I was letting the person who was bullying me in work win. This impacted me for a long time and still does. I struggled to acknowledge to others how unbearable and overwhelming my life felt back in December. To this day only a select number of people know about my depression and anxiety. I don’t want to push anyone else away. 

Today was my friend’s birthday. I sent her a text wishing her a happy birthday. This has been ignored. This is not like this friend. I know for a fact she will have received it as she was on whatsapp two hours after I messaged her. 

I had written this friendship off even before I had my breakdown in December. So why am I feeling so hurt by all of this? I have now lost 3 close friends in the space of 6 months. I feel as if it has highlighted how isolated I am. My circle of friends seems to be dwindling. Maybe all of these broken friendships are all down to me. I find it hard to forgive people. I guess living with depression and anxiety has made me want to shut out people who are a potential threat to my mental wellbeing. 

My anxiety is telling me that my friend who I stopped speaking to in January has played a part in all this. I wouldn’t put it past her to try and sabotage my friendships with others. 

I feel ridiculous for letting all this bother me. I live with the constant fear that I will end up alone; without Dave, my family or the friends I still have. I am clearly too much hard work. So why would anyone want to be there for me?